It seems I've written this all somewhere before,
but here it goes again. I was born in June, the 27th day of 1960,
in Montebello, California. My parents bore two sisters before me,
being 7 1/2 and 9 years of age at that time. My first memory was
a tough one. I lost my left eye while playing in the yard with my
sisters. My parents received bad counsel to lie and say a neighbor
kid had thrown the toy gun that struck me, and I was told to believe that
also and did for many years.
We moved from Los Angeles area to Reno, Nevada for half a year when I was about three. I remember very little from there, but my parents met some dear people named the Jacksons and we visited them several times as I grew up. I always enjoyed Mr. Jackson because he had a deep joy in his life, and it kind of bubbled out and made me happy when I was around him. He had the best sense of humor I've ever seen in a person I believe....and he sounded a little like Yogi Bear to me which gave him extra points. :-)
At the age of 3 1/2 we moved to Corvallis, Oregon. My Dad's brother Wayne gave us land to build on, and we worked hard that first year while living in a shop, to build the house I would grow up in. After a very harsh storm that year, we completed the house and moved in. A yellow split level double garage house with gardens and a babbling brook flowing up into the woods that went forever!
It snowed a lot a few years in the 60's, and we had a toboggan! I learned to maneuvre the craft down the back hill alone for the first time that snowy year in probably 1966. I remember my cousin Ron and I built forts and tried to have a snowball fight. I wasn't much competition yet since he was four years older, but we had a good time.
School started out with some tough times. I broke my ankle trying to parachute down the stairs with a 1 foot diameter chute, as reflected in my Kindergarten photo. Lots of kids made fun of my eye, and I really didn't know how to handle it yet. I mean, does anybody? We humans are such a strange lot. I suppose it was this initial rejection by society that drove me toward intellectual pursuits.
As school began to move along, I began to discover I had some physical gifts as well. I guess maybe my cousin got me interested. Ron was a great athlete, and wound up being one of the star players in the early years of the high school I would later attend. We began to play football some, and he would teach me how to tackle and stuff. The biggest trick was doing it without breaking glasses frames. A few friends from school began to play with me. We had a yard with a field that was big enough for us to play in. It didn't take too many years until my muscle prone legs began to respond to the challenge. One day my cousin was chasing me in the yard, and I decided, for some strange reason in my frantic effort to get away, to try going UP the hill! I could hear my cousin back there going "woahh!" in amazement as I climbed the hill at an atypical rate for a lad my size.
It wasn't long before I was carrying the whole playground around on my back, and using my patented "leg clamp" to defeat wrestling opponents. I loved to play football, but as the glasses continued to break, my parents finally forbade it. In 6th grade I think, I was standing on the side watching, and they desperately needed someone to fill in for the guy who left before the last few minutes of the period were up. They pleaded and I finally caved in. First play I just turn around and some kid head butts me and breaks my glasses. It seems there was a preoccupation some had with breaking my glasses. In Jr. High a kid for some reason was taunting me telling me that if I stood on the other side of the door he'd be able to break my glasses. It was really stupid, but I went over there since he had such arrogance I had to show him the power of a foot placed at the base of the door. :-) He didn't wait that long however and the nice little boy cost my parents yet another set of frames. Did I mention I think humanity is pretty pathetic? Anyway on and on it went with balls flying out of orbit and hitting me in the face, people elbowing me in the face while trying to rebound a basketball, running into my face with their head...it ran into three pages of brief notes at my eye doctor's shop as I recall.
Well, backtracking a bit, I recall the presence of God being very real to me when I lost my eye. He continued to work to form a relationship with me and I came to realize that I was very lost at the age of five or six. I heard about Jesus Christ, and that he had died for me. I didn't understand very much about him at the time, but I prayed that he would forgive me my sins and I have seen him draw me closer despite my pride and insecurity since that time. I guess the one thing I had and always have maintained was a desire for the truth. This is what Jesus claimed to be and I now look back and understand how he was beginning to draw me even at that young age.
My parents settled at the Corvallis Nazarene Church as their Sunday morning and evening gathering place. I didn't find much real friendship there until Jr. High. But I did hear the gospel preached there and am thankful God used a man named Edward Hearn to explain enough about it to understand it was the answer to my lostness.
Meanwhile, I was deciding I wanted to be an astronaut, a professional football player, and a fighter in a war just like WWII if I had to figure out a way to short circuit all the advanced technology myself! I loved those war movies, and just anything that showed people depending on each other in critical situations. And giving their lives for one another. I loved Batman, because of all the bizarre characters probably. I really regret having watched it today. It brought a spiritual darkness to my life along with many other things I allowed to take a place. Seeds of sadistic thought were planted in many through the show. There were many suggestive ploys used in the scripting to draw people's thoughts toward evil.
Through many events God allowed in my life, I began to realize that I still had a lot of pride to deal with and that it was the primary thing which separates people from him. Great as he had made my body and billions of others, I had to decrease and he had to increase or I would wind up like most of the people I knew; bitter, full of deceit, and just generally unhappy in life. I dreamed and still do dream of finding someone who would love me for who I am on this earth and that I could give all I have for. I dreamed of having a degree of success in whatever I worked in and to be liked by those around me and even to have fame around the world. But all these things had to be set aside if I was going to follow Christ.
After going through a Jr. High experience where we had a near gang war, and getting picked on quite a bit in the 7th and 8th grade, I was glad to finally be hitting the High School scene as a 10th grader and voila! They brought the 9th graders with us!!! Whoopie! The kids who used to pick on me were so disoriented I never got hassled much again. There is so much I could share from those years though. But one of the most important things would be driving places with "Pastor Jack"....the first pastor I'd ever heard of going by his first name. Jack Lowe and his wife Darla were a lot of fun but also challenged me to start growing more in my faith. We'd visit kids on Saturday, driving around in the old beater Dodge van. We had a lot of good conversations and I'll always appreciate Jack for taking the time to be a friend.
I guess it wasn't long after that when turmoil infested the religious system as the "head pastor" was trying to move in some directions that all didn't agree with. Some were of the mindset that he was "head" as his name indicates (even though the bibles laying all around say there is only ONE head [Christ]). And others didn't want to be "yes" men but wanted to reason things out together. My dad was one of those types. And I'll always be thankful for a father who set an example of seeking the truth RATHER than comfort. It's never comfortable to disagree with people who have clout in our social setting. We often wind up alienated. But in this case the pastor wound up leaving along with a lot of those who worshipped his words. Unfortunately pastor Jack was part of the package and I missed my friend.
I was always a "friend of the friendless" after this because Jack had shown me an aspect of Jesus that I couldn't walk away from. Most people in this world try to walk in "high society", or at least the highest one they can afford due to their circumstances. But Yshu'a didn't do this. He said that it was the sick who needed a doctor and he came to heal. Therefore he didn't waste time trying to buy his way into relationship with people who thought they were "well". He said "Blessed are the poor in spirit". Well, the pharisees didn't know they were poor, so they didn't think their words were for them and they missed the blessing. Most of them anyway. I knew I was poor. I still know I am poor. Without Christ I have nothing. And I wanted to share him. In 10th grade I began to do a lot more socially and a couple took the youth at our fellowship named Loren and Jody (Jo-poh). Loren coached basketball for us also and they were just a lot of fun to have working with us. Some people I befriended came, but I never saw any of them come to Christ. I was sad to see this, but at the same time I'd begun to see that there was a religious society going on that wasn't really part of Christ and maybe that was driving away some true seekers.
One great example was my friend Rollin Rachelle, who is now one of the world's leading authorities on self-harmonization vocal techniques. I remember him practicing this as we drove around in the old '67 Couger. He played hoop on that team and did the lead part in a play called "Show Me" we performed that year. It was such a fitting message. Yet in the end, the "church" showed Rollin that his way of dress wasn't good enough for them (shorts usually. Rollin was a unique guy with hair down to his waste and fairly dark skin. I never asked him why he wore shorts all the time. And I knew we were friends and if he WANTED to wear something else and couldn't afford it, he'd probably ask. But he never did ask.) and they bought him a nice new suit!! He wore it once and never came back.
In this way and many others, the religious society broke my heart and I began seeking the Lord all the more because I knew he held all truth. Not the seminarians. As I was starting college I began to get challenged to read the Bible. I knew I'd put my faith in a God who had come to earth to show me how much he loved me. But I had been told a lot of things that seemed to conflict. And I'd been told not to worry; that the things of God are too high for us to comprehend. (In the back of my mind though I was thinking "yeah, but this is...a LIE! A lie is a lie is a lie!! :-) ) So I set out to read the entire bible, and did. Page by page praying as I read each word. Asking God to help me understand how each part fit together!
Needless to say, that cleared up a lot of the confusion that remained. The books of the Bible are amazingly logical internally AND when compared to each other! There is nothing relating to the ethereal which comes close I've found as I've talked and read other's philosophies. And this is not surprising because I already knew that this was a compilation of writings about actual experiences with the God who chose Israel to reveal himself to and through.
Anyway, I'm going to have to detail this story more later. I graduated from OSU in Science Education hoping to teach and be able to witness to kids around that occupation. I believe the lord did a lot of great things in the few years I worked as a volunteer youth pastor in Corvallis while going to school, driving kids around in the crazy car I built, etc. In 1985 though I got work finally working in the Institute of Molecular Biology in Eugene, OR. I worked there 8 years until that environment had had enough of me. :-) (And of the Lord I serve for the most part I think...) I decided to quit and try to do music evangelism full time, and toured with Frank Castanette and worked with my own group for a while. I also worked with the Revelation Street band for many years which turned out to be a great fellowship of dear brothers and sisters I still see quite often when I'm in that area. We played the Eugene Mission together consistently for 4 years and did a lot of other outreach things.
Also during those years the 5th and D house of Springfield was in operation and the Brethren band and so many good friends and memories resulted. Many friends from Campus Crusade for Christ meetings and roommates and band members still get together on occasion and communicate. But in the mid 90's I lost steam on the house and decided to drop the project. Frank Castanette and Mike Plumb decided to start a fellowship and I felt led to help out there while living in my van and with people as the house had run me completely out of money and energy. After a failed computer building business attempt, I decided to listen to a very special little girl who had asked me why I didn't just move to Montana to be with them. In certain ways I couldn't think of a reason so I said "I dunno. I guess I will". Within a few months I was back here and I guess I'll break there for now. -Bob